Couples who have a high net worth and decide to divorce usually face a lengthy process which can be extremely contentious and involve many complex legal issues.
What is a High Net Worth Divorce?
A high net worth divorce is typically one that involves more than one million dollars in net worth liquid assets. If you fall into this category then you may have to deal with issues you wouldn’t otherwise have to.
High Net Worth Divorce Issues
The existence of a large amount of money and assets can present some unique challenges when you’re going through a divorce. Here are some things to prepare for:
Your divorce may take longer. Splitting complex assets in a high net worth divorce can be a lengthy process. When you own multiple homes or properties, several vehicles, and a yacht, you can anticipate that your divorce proceedings may take a bit longer. Not only does the value of all assets need to be determined, but it also needs to be determined which are joint assets and which are personal. As you can imagine, there are bound to be disagreements in these areas, leading to longer and more expensive court proceedings. Couples are often encouraged to try to come to an agreement about assets beforehand to make the process go smoother.
Property and investment values need to be determined. In addition to what was listed above, there may also be complicated evaluations of other assets, such as investments, intellectual property, stocks, retirement accounts, unvested interests, and high-value collections. Valuation experts are often called upon to analyze all assets and will document their findings. Sometimes they will also be asked to testify in court. The goal is to divide assets as evenly as possible, although in some cases one party is not satisfied.
You may need a business valuation. Things get even more complicated when business ownership is involved, and that asset that needs to be divided in some form. In order for this to happen, the value of the business needs to be determined. Many times both parties will hire experts to value the business and then testify about their findings in court. This will help determine how much the business is worth and how it should be divided.
You may need a forensic accountant. When large amounts of money and bitter parties are involved, sometimes one or both parties are tempted to hide assets from their spouse, so they benefit financially and get some revenge on their spouse. When this is suspected, it can be beneficial to hire a forensic accountant. Forensic accountants are trained to investigate finances to see if there is money being hidden. Hiding assets in a divorce is illegal, and in today’s electronic world, not as simple as it might have been in years past.
It’s also important to note that if you believe your spouse is hiding assets in your divorce, it is imperative that you discuss the matter with an attorney who has experience in uncovering hidden assets in a lawful manner. Do not try to go about it on your own as this can have lasting implications in your divorce.
If you anticipate going through a high net worth divorce, be sure to do your homework so you know what battles you may be facing. Know that it most likely won’t be cut and dry. Hire an attorney who is experienced in handling high net worth divorces so that you get the best possible outcome.